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Experts Focus On Special Educational Needs Children

9 October 2012

A seminar hosted by the UNESCO Centre at the University of Ulster and the Children with Disabilities Strategic Alliance on Wednesday 10th October will bring together a wide range of stakeholders from the educational and community and voluntary sectors to discuss the role of Classroom Assistants in Northern Ireland, with particular emphasis on children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Speaking ahead of the Seminar, Dr Una O’Connor (pictured) from the Children and Youth Programme at the UNESCO Centre in the University of Ulster, said:

“Historically, the basic right to education has been an automatic assumption for children in Northern Ireland.

"But for pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN), this has been a more ambiguous process, where the language, policy and legislation of education provision has alternately strengthened and diminished their educational options.

"Our joint seminar will focus on capacity building to support the inclusion of children with SEN within the mainstream school sector.

“The issue will be explored specifically in relation to the role of the Classroom Assistant in Northern Ireland and will address the key conclusions of research carried out by the Children and Youth Programme team within the University of Ulster, which outlines how dedicated training for Classroom Assistants is essential to realise the rights and educational needs of children and young people with SEN.

“We believe that alongside parents, teachers, government, and hardworking organisations in the community and voluntary sector, the role of the Classroom Assistant can be developed to enhance and protect the educational experience of all children in our schools.

"The opportunity exists with the current review of Special Educational Needs and inclusion by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland to explore innovative and exciting opportunities for improving standards, protecting rights, and valuing all who have a role to play in education. We hope this seminar will be a strong contributing step to realising that opportunity.”



Notes to Editors:

The seminar will take place at 2pm in the Stormont Hotel Belfast on Wednesday 10th October.

The research from the Children and Youth Programme at the UNESCO Centre in the University of Ulster, ‘Capacity Building for Inclusion: The Role and Contribution of Special Needs Assistants and Classroom Assistants in Ireland and Northern Ireland’, can be accessed here.